I was in the grocery store on Jan. 2 feeling good about the new year, the vaccine and an eventual return to normal life. As I turned into the next aisle with a spring in my step for the first time in months, I encountered a man in a T-shirt that read: “The Media IS The Virus.” Needless to say, my mood soured.
I resisted the temptation to get into a debate with the maskless man.
Truth is, I have family members, high school acquaintances, neighbors and others who feel this way. I have engaged in countless debates, including on Facebook (something I have avoided until now). I even had a publisher recently tell me that The New York Times was fake news.
As I think about threats for 2021 and beyond, this disdain for the media has me extremely concerned. We have a lot of work to do as an industry to combat this. LMA stands ready to work with all industry organizations and the major platforms to develop educational messaging on the importance of local media in a healthy democracy.
The other top threats that keep me up at night include:
- Loss of more journalism jobs, especially at newspapers that are focused on digital subscriptions as their top revenue stream
- Reliance on retransmission fees by broadcasters
- Our ability to be essential to a healthy democracy when hard paywalls shut out 99% of the community (and especially those who are less affluent and/or underrepresented)
- Inability to innovate and transform
The good news? There are many opportunities for 2021 that must be seized.